10 Nov 2016

Sport: Tonga 7s back themselves to cause another big surprise

1:10 pm on 10 November 2016

Tonga believe they are capable of causing another big surprise at the Oceania Men's Sevens Championship, which kicks off in Suva tomorrow.

Tonga finished runners-up at last year's tournament in Auckland, upsetting the Manu Samoa sevens in pool play before being well beaten by Australia in the men's final.

Tonga huddle together during the Oceania Sevens.

Tonga huddle together during last year's Oceania Sevens. Photo: RNZI / Vinnie Wylie

That qualified them for the Olympic repechage event in Monaco in June, where they finished in tenth place.

Team manager Filo Akauola said most of those players are either unavailable or have moved overseas.

"All the players they are all local players, they are all based in Tonga," he said.

"From the team from Monaco there is only one player included in this team so most of the team they are 19, 20, 21, 22. They are eager and their ability to win this tournament is there."

Former Wallabies winger Cooper Vuna was unable to inspire Tonga to success at the Monaco Sevens.

Tonga failed to qualify for the Rio Olympics. Photo: World Rugby / Martin Seras Lima

Despite finishing second at last year's Oceania Championship, Tonga missed out on competing at the Sydney and Wellington tournaments because World Rugby gifted the remaining place in the main draw to Japan, who had already qualified for the Rio Olympics.

Filo Akauola said it was essential they return to the global circuit after a two-year absence.

"We have to qualify and we have prepared for the last three months that we have been training so hard in the bad weather, good weather in Tonga and I do believe that these young players can make it," he said.

Tonga will play Olympic champions Fiji, Papua New Guinea, American Samoa and Nauru in pool play.

The top finisher in the men's competition, excluding World Series core teams Fiji, Samoa and Australia, will earn a spot at the Wellington, Sydney and Hong Kong legs of the world series, with the next best team also going to Hong Kong.